Themes

 

 

MEANING


Meaning is at the heart of the market. And impact – the change we want to make – is the focus as deal sizes grow and institutional players enter the market. SOCAP is the place people bring their intentions to make a difference and make the connections to push their projects and goals forward.

 

 

IMPACT INVESTING


Impact investing has emerged as a movement and an asset class. But who are the impact investors? How much financial return are they asking for and how much impact are they demanding? We’ll look for answers by convening well-known investors and new impact funds, as well as the field’s experienced leaders. You’ll learn where the market is moving from the full spectrum of investors: angels and early stage, to family offices and institutional investors. The people-powered capital tools of crowdfunding and social stock exchanges will also have their place in the conversation.


In partnership with Omidyar Network

2012 marks five years since the term “impact investing” was coined. In this time, the sector has generated tremendous interest and begun attracting capital from diverse sources. What can we do in the next five years to accelerate the industry towards sustained impact?

Omidyar Network is excited to partner with the Impact Investing theme at SOCAP12 to facilitate this important conversation. By reflecting on trends that have emerged and lessons learned, we hope to inspire greater dialogue about the potential that lies
ahead and the steps needed to ensure the most constructive outcomes. We encourage you to engage with the sessions and speakers, share your own ideas about impact investing, and join us in championing the industry’s evolution.


TOMORROW’S PHILANTHROPY

Giving is not going away. While impact investing is making a difference, the role of giving is becoming even more central in the social capital market. This partnership can be seen in the grants and subsidies that fund the initial concepts that then become investable and scalable. Donors and corporate givers are also stepping up to help would-be world-changers become ready for investment through accelerators, seed funding, and other promising solutions that increase the potential for sustainable global good. Across the sector, investors and donors are learning when to give, when to invest, and when to accept lower financial returns in exchange for higher impact.


PUBLIC SECTOR CONNECTING FOR IMPACT


In an ever-more-connected world facing the reality of finite resources, civic engagement is emerging to fill the gap. From platforms for advocacy and volunteerism that enable people to take more control of their communities to startups that bring in new political voices in an election year, civic entrepreneurs are creating something important and new. At the opposite end of the scale, social impact bonds are trying to change the rules so social service agencies ally with investors to solve systemic problems in chronically disadvantaged neighborhoods, rather than simply putting bandaids on symptoms. At the international scale, nimble impact investors struggle to work with the cumbersome development agencies. At the local, national, and international level, government and impact investors are learning to engage with each other.

EARLY-STAGE


The innovations that have the potential make the biggest change often come from raw startups. But unlike in standard investing, few young social enterprises will ride a hockey stick curve to rapid success, because they are taking on some of the most intractable problems of the world: from sanitation to education. New syndicates,new investment structures that are more friendly to the entrepreneur and to their goals to make a difference are arising. Crowd-funding and local stock offerings enable the average person to put their money in the game. It’s still a work in progress, and huge gaps remain, but the early stage of the social capital market is increasingly growing and vibrant.

DEEP, LOCAL, CONNECTED 


There is a sense that as our global awareness grows, our neighborhoods must remain primary if we are to see real impact. This is seen in the social capital market as inner city entrepreneurs innovating to create financial inclusion and improve health, housing, and food; and in rural areas around the world – from Africa to Appalachia – as environmental funders joining forces with social investors to alleviate poverty and create resilient ecosystems. It’s all part of a new approach that is deep, local, and connected.

 

 

TECH FOR GOOD


Low cost, renewable, distributed energy is changing lives in rural Africa, India, and other parts of the developing world. A spectrum of investors is working in the space, with goals that range from philanthropic to asking for market rate return. Around the world, big data is enabling people to know where a problem is and find ways to solve it, while also making sure the people on the margins get to use the power of that information. Mobile technology is leapfrogging old systems and bringing information within reach of more people. Impact investors – who typically like to share information (in a cooperative paradigm) – are still learning how to work with traditional tech investors – with a focus on gaining an edge (in a competitive paradigm).

INTERMEDIARIES


Market infrastructure is essential. And in the social capital market, intermediaries are arising to build the bridges that take concepts to reality. Infrastructure runs the gamut from accelerators that enable promising entrepreneurs to gain the skills to get funding, to pitch sessions with investors, to metrics systems. Systems to make sure impact investors are really making a difference are still
evolving. While most metrics are built to answer the questions that investors want answered, asking the beneficiaries of impact what they want and how they feel about the interventions that impact investors are bringing is starting to become more common.


NEW ECONOMY


Markets are not forces of nature, like tsunamis or earthquakes. They are tools that are designed by people for a purpose. The traditional capital markets are broken, trust is often absent and the system is based on growth and competition assumptions that simply don’t work for the planet or its people. At SOCAP we explore new structures, new kinds of ownership, and look for new ways to rebuild the markets for the good of all.

 

 

DESIGN WORKSHOP


New for 2012, in response to attendee feedback from previous years, we’ve decided
to focus on a few topics and GO DEEP! What does this mean? Each morning, two themes will be showcased in the plenary session, giving every SOCAP attendee a big-picture view of the topic. We’ll then proceed to a one-hour session with leading experts in each field, which will lead into a two-hour design facilitated workshop exploring how to realize real-world outcomes. Our hope with the Design Series is to not only impart inspiration but to spark participants to take action relevant to the Design Series topic and to their field of work.

The SOCAP12 design series is brought to you in partnership with Hot Studio.

 

DEEP DIVE


For SOCAP12, we have an increased number of 90-minute workshop sessions, designed for individuals to immerse themselves in a topic. Not for the faint-hearted or beginners, these sessions will be immersed in the big issues and intractable problems surrounding topics such as Social Impact Bonds, Crowdfunding, and Metrics and Information Systems. All these sessions are marked with a logo to indicate they are a deep dive session.